I was recently asked about the concept of ‘oversharing’, in other words when does authenticity and vulnerability cross the line? (We were talking primarily about online, tweets, status updates, blog posts etc.)
If I remember correctly my response was to trust your own intuition and that little feeling inside yourself that gives you the ‘no’ feeling at the thought of sharing. Usually you get that feeling before you send something out, but once in a while, it’s a moment of retrospect.
I’ve certainly sent out a few tweets, usually after happy hour, and thought later – yeah, I really wish I hadn’t tweeted that. The way I knew it was oversharing was that little feeling of sinking in the pit of my stomach. However, it’s important to not beat yourself up, or vow to never tweet again after one of these not so pleasant moments, but instead learn, lean in to the mistake, offer forgiveness to yourself because I know your intentions were good, and keep going.
I think the real key to the authenticity in your story telling and sharing is the element of connection. (If you haven’t watched Brene Brown’s Ted Talk on this subject – I highly recommend you do – click here.) How can others see themselves in your sharing, connect their life and their experience to your life and your experience? What’s the collective lesson? What’s the collective feeling?
In other words, don’t write about your head cold and go on for days and days complaining about how sick you are and how much it sucks to be sick. Instead talk about what the experience of being sick has brought to the surface of your awareness. Talk about taking care of your health because when you don’t have it, life is a very different experience. Talk about remedies you’ve discovered that quickly release your body from a cold. Talk about things that other people can connect with, experience, learn from.
Authenticity is not an exercise in narcism, but instead an opportunity for connection. It’s a chance for others to see themselves in you and in your story and recognize that they are not alone. And as humans feeling alone, isolated, out of the loop or out of the tribe is our most primal fear. Sharing and storytelling is a wonderful way to invite others in to a collective unity that reminds them – we are all connected, we are all one, and it’s safe to be who you really are.